Hey parents, this is Scot, with Revolution Modern Martial Arts, and since 2009, we’ve helped thousands of kids build the confidence and discipline that they need to be successful at home, school, and in life. As a martial arts instructor, every week, I talk to more and more parents who are struggling because their kid can’t focus.
They’re often distracted at school or at home. They give up too easily with new tasks. They don’t listen when you tell them to do something, and they may be even getting in trouble at school. Parents are often worried that their child will fall behind their peers and have even more trouble in middle and high school. I can see why. Kids activities, sports, extracurriculars, and even school is becoming more and more competitive, and parents do not want to feel like they’re not doing the best job they can to set their child up for success.
What I’ve noticed, with the many kids who I’ve worked with, is that a lack of focus is a result of three things. Some kids have one of these issues, while others have a combo of two or three. The good news is that these issues can be fixed with a little bit of commitment from the parent to try something different.
First off, I’ve worked with many kids who are smart and should be high achievers, but they get in trouble for talking in class and being easily distracted. This is a sign that the child is not challenged enough by the material, so they either get it done quickly and then find something else to keep them occupied, or they simply phone it in because, without a challenge, the work just seems boring. Either way, the child ends up finding something else to stimulate themselves, such as talking or acting out.
Another common thing I see is that some kids allow anxiety to get the better of them. As an instructor, I know that anxiety is a real barrier to learning, but it’s hard for the teacher or parent to realize that the child is struggling with this. Kids either don’t know how to verbalize the fact that they’re stressed, or they simply don’t want to admit it for fear of being in trouble or being shamed. And since the adult in the situation does not realize the child is stressed out, they assume that their poor performance or lack of will is due to a focus issue.
And finally, there are those kids whose pent-up energy gets the best of them. The parents or teachers say that the child can’t sit still or stay on task to get anything done. Recess once a day is usually not enough for these kids, and many of them also struggle with nighttime routines and waking up in the morning. They end up going to school tired, but then they get a second wind that results in outbursts of fidgeting and acting out, and their schoolwork suffers as a result.
Now that we’ve discussed the top three things that prevent kids from being able to focus let’s talk about how to fix them.
If you find that your child is under-stimulated at school, you can request to have them tested for an accelerated program, or you can find an extracurricular activity that challenges their mind as well as their body. Make sure you find something to challenge them to be their best.
For those that have trouble with anxiety, help them identify the routine of school. I found that the more that a child can predict what’s going to happen, the less likely they are to be stressed out. In addition, work on building their confidence, so even when things don’t go according to plan, they’ll be able to bounce back more quickly.
Finally, solving the problem of excess energy is usually an easy fix. Be sure to enroll the child into an activity that has little downtime and challenges them physically a couple of times per week. Not only will this give them some needed exercise and release of energy, but it will also help them sleep better and be more evenly rested for school.
Based on my experience teaching kids and realizing that either under-stimulation, anxiety, or excess energy is a common source of focus problems, we designed our karate curriculum to help with these three issues.
First, we don’t place a kid in the class based on their age. We conduct an evaluation to see which of our four different class styles will challenge the student to be their best. Not so easy they phone it in, and not too hard that they feel overwhelmed. This way, kids are challenged at the right level for them to make sure they’re having fun and learning.
Kids who are prone to anxiety quickly learn that our classes follow a very consistent structure. They bow in and start class the same way every day. Then we go through our basics, sparring, self-defensive, board breaking, et cetera, in the same order every single class. The kids can predict what is going to happen, and it helps them relieve stress. On top of that, we actively teach confidence in class, so they end up being more resilient with higher self-esteem.
Finally, for the energetic kids, we make sure that our classes have very little downtime. We move through a lot of material in a fun way every class. These kids get a great workout and learn valuable life skills, all while having fun with no time to act out or get distracted.
So if your child is struggling with focus due to one of these three issues or something else entirely, check out our webpage to learn more about how we can help your child. Until next time, this is Scot signing off. Thanks.